Edmonton man convicted of first-degree murder in brazen 2016 shooting

Article content

A man accused of gunning down an Edmonton garbage truck driver outside his apartment building has been convicted of first-degree murder.

On Wednesday, Justice John Henderson found Dagmawi Abebe Admasu guilty on all counts for the July 2016 shooting death of Daniel Holly.

Admasu, 32, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

Henderson concluded there was no reasonable doubt that Admasu was one of two gunmen who fired a hail of bullets at Holly in the parking lot outside his apartment.

The case included an assassination-style shooting, a high-speed flight from police during which shots were fired, and possiblewitness intimidation.

Neither Crown nor defence suggested a possible motive for the killing.

Daniel Holly, 34, died on July 27, 2016, four days after being shot outside an apartment building in northeast Edmonton. Dagmawi Admasu’s trial on first-degree murder charges began March 29, 2021.
Daniel Holly, 34, died on July 27, 2016, four days after being shot outside an apartment building in northeast Edmonton. Dagmawi Admasu’s trial on first-degree murder charges began March 29, 2021.

Holly was shot outside 432 Brintnell Boulevard around 9 p.m. on July 23, 2016. He and his common-law wife were targeted by two gunmen who emerged as the couple walked to their vehicle to pick up takeout. The woman was shot in the wrist, while Holly took bullets to the head and torso and later died in hospital. He was 34.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Multiple nearby residents reported seeing a gold-coloured van speed from the scene with multiple people inside. Police officers spotted the vehicle 11 minutes later and gave chase. At one point, a person inside the van fired a handgun at a cruiser occupied by Edmonton police constables Benjamin Davis and John Hudson and a civilian on a ride-along.

The pursuit ended five minutes later when the vehicle was abandoned in an alley. A police dog led officers to St. Matthew Elementary School, where Admasu was found hiding in an alcove.

A search of Admasu’s hiding place revealed a backpack containing a .45-calibre and .40-calibre pistols, both empty. Forensic testing established they were the same guns used to shoot Holly, while DNA testing found Admasu’s genetic material on both weapons. Gunshot residue was identified on the backs of his hands.

Police ultimately determined there were three people in the van — Admasu, Tysean Wawryk, and a third person who has never been identified. The Crown stayed charges against Wawryk last year.

The primary issue in the case was whether the Crown had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Admasu was one of the shooters.

A key question facing Henderson was whether to admit evidence from a photo lineup Holly’s spouse completed in hospital 16 hours after the shooting.

Police investigate the scene of a shooting at 436 Brintnell Blvd. on Saturday, July 23, 2016 in Edmonton. Two men have been charged with first-degree murder.
Police investigate the scene of the shooting at 432 Brintnell Blvd. on Saturday, July 23, 2016 in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

The woman identified a photo of Admasu as one of the possible shooters, but later recanted, saying she was groggy from drugs at the time and didn’t understand the process. The Crown argued the woman may have been fearful of “reprisal.” Her name is covered by a publication ban which the Crown requested for her and five other witnesses who feared for their safety.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Henderson ultimately did not believe the woman’s statements in court. He said the claim she was too drugged to understand what was happening was “completely inconsistent” with a video of the photo lineup taken by police, noting she appeared alert and “very engaged in the process.”

Henderson said that while much of the Crown’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, all that evidence pointed toward Admasu as one of the shooters.

He dismissed as implausible five alternate theories, including that Admasu was the third person in the van who did not participate in the shooting, and that the police dog led officers to the wrong person.

Defence lawyer Clayton Rice did not call evidence but argued the case demonstrated the “frailties of eyewitness identification.”

Crown lawyers Anders Quist and Meghan Rohatyn prosecuted the case.

Admasu remains in custody. A sentencing hearing has been set for June 7.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Latest articles

Related articles